THIS was the closest Scotland have come to defeating these opponents since the 25-25 draw of 1983 with the home side leading by nine points with less than 20 minutes to go. But the All Blacks bench made a big difference as Gregor Townsend’s side were slowly but surely reeled back in, before a second try of the match for debutant Mark Telea killed off the contest with four minutes left on the clock.
The mood in the changing room would have been a mix of disappointment, frustration and pride after this riveting contest. There were giants all over the park for Scotland. Not least returning talisman Finn Russell who gave a maestro performance, but it would be wrong to focus on just the stand-off.
Ultimately, however, this was another one that got away. Scotland coughed up penalties on New Zealand’s line three times, whereas their opponents were ruthless in the strike zone.
It started ominously for the home team, with Jamie Ritchie conceding an early offside penalty which allowed New Zealand to kick to the corner, and the All Blacks were playing advantage for another penalty against the Scottish captain for jumping across the line-out when Scott Barrett muscled over from the back of the maul, giving the visitors the lead with just two minutes 23 seconds on the clock.
Scotland were soon scrambling backwards again when Ardie Savea won a brilliant turnover and Beauden Barrett released Caleb Clarke on the left with a neat grubber, and after the powerful winger had made good ground Barrett put boot to ball again with a diagonal into acres of space on the right, handing Telea as easy a first try in international rugby as he could have hoped for.
Scotland desperately needed a shot of inspiration and Stuart Hogg stepped up to the plate, bursting from midfield, chipping the last man and winning the race to touch down before being shoved off the ball by Anton Lienart-Brown. It was referred to the TMO, but there was no doubt that it had to be a penalty try and yellow card.
Scotland then levelled the match by scoring the game’s fourth try with just 14 minutes played, when the magnificent Darcy Graham picked out David Havili’s loose pass, then out-paced Clarke and Jordie Barrett on his way to the line.
It looked like Graham had scored again on the half-hour when Russell sent a wicked, flat pass out to Hogg, who fed his fellow Hawick man for a spectacular finish in the corner, but the little winger’s foot brushed the touchline in the act of scoring.
Play was called back for a New Zealand side entry at the maul which started that move, and after working play in-field the All Blacks conceded a ruck-penalty right in front of the posts, which allowed Russell to kick his side into the lead.
Scotland came close to scoring again when they set up camp on New Zealand’s line during the last few minutes of the half, but some off-the-ball shenanigans by Fraser Brown was picked up by referee Frank Murphy, who blew his whistle to bring the curtain down on a breath-taking 40 minutes of rugby.
Scotland needed to start the second half well, and they did, earning an offside penalty three minutes after the resumption, which Russell turned into three easy points.
Then an early engagement penalty saw Russell prod Scotland nine points ahead with 27 minutes to go, putting the hosts beyond a converted try of being caught.
The All Blacks were clearly not enjoying themselves at this point, but slowly they began to build their way back into the contest, and when Rory Sutherland was called for collapsing a scrum, Jordie Barrett stepped forward to kick the points which brought it back to a six-point game.
It was the All Blacks’ first points in 54 minutes, and they could now see a way out of the hole they were in.
When Jack Dempsey saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on which was not very well disguised as an attempted tackle, New Zealand opted for the scrum and muscled over again, with Scott Barrett claiming his second, and brother Jordie’s conversion edged the visitors into a one-point lead with 14 minutes to go.
The killer blow came on 74 minutes when the New Zealand juggernaut rolled into the strike zone with a relentlessness that had not been seen since the opening minutes, leading to Telea handing off Graham to touch down in the corner. 
Jordie Barrett slotted the conversion. 

Scorers, Scotland – Tries: Penalty Try, Graham. Con: Russell. Pens: Russell 3.
New Zealand – Tries: S Barrett 2, Talea 2. Cons: J Barrett 4. Pen: J Barrett.
Scotland: S Hogg; D Graham, C Harris (M Bennett 64), S Tuipulotu (B Kinghorn 77), D van der Merwe; F Russell, A Price (B White 64); P Schoeman (R Sutherland 56-64), F Brown (E Ashman 71), Z Fagerson (W Nel 58), R Gray, G Gilchrist (J Gray 64), J Ritchie, H Watson (J Dempsey 17), M Fagerson.
New Zealand: J Barrett; M Telea, A Lienart-Brown, D Havili (R Ioane. 53), C Clarke; B Barrett (S Perofeta 79), F Christie (T Perenara 56); E De Groot (G Bower 51), S Taukei’aho (C Taylor 56), N Laulala (F Newell 51), S Whitelock, S Barrett (T Vaa’i 71), A Ioane (S Frizell 59), D Papali’i, A Savea.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Attendance: 67,144